•The park has been well known for hosting political rallies in the lead-up to general elections.
•Uhuru Park would have been the best venue for the country’s main presidential candidates Deputy President William Ruto and Raila Odinga
The ongoing renovations at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park have left politicians worried in a last-minute race for the final rally as Kenyans head to the ballot in two weeks.
The park is well known for hosting political rallies in the lead-up to general elections.
On January 30, 2018, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga had himself sworn in as the “people's president”.
On June 15, 2010, six people were killed and hundreds injured at Uhuru Park when two explosions hit a political rally targeting the "NO" campaign for the constitutional referendum.
In 2002, the park was a favourite ground to the Narc Kenya party that kicked out Kanu from power after it unveiled the late and former President Mwai Kibaki who won the general elections.
In 1989, the late Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai led protests against the government's plans to construct the 60-storey Kenya Times Media Trust business complex in Uhuru Park.
She was forced by the government to vacate her office and was vilified in Parliament, but luckily her efforts were not in vain and the government's response led foreign investors to cancel the project.
In August 1996, a group led by the then Catholic Archbishop Cardinal Maurice Otunga burned a heap of condoms in Uhuru Park in protest against contraceptives.
However, during this year’s election Nairobi Metropolitan Services' decision to renovate Uhuru and Central locked out the place for non-recreational activities.
The new-look Uhuru Park will involve installing modern facilities and amenities.
The parks had been neglected for many years and needed an upgrade.
NMS is upgrading the park using their contractors and not a private contractor. The parks ought to have been renovated 20 years ago.
The basic facilities at the park were built in the 1960s and 80s for a city of less than one million people, but now Nairobi has over four million residents.
Uhuru Park will have manicured lawns, maintained trees, enhanced walkways and green spaces.
The lilies pond at the park will be turned into an aquarium named Uhuru Aquascape.
A larger artificial lake will be transformed into a major waterfront with a Swahili restaurant.
There will be an outdoor amphitheatre fitted with an audiovisual screen, a Nyatiti-shaped events garden, and a children’s play area, with bouncing castles and merry-go-rounds.
The iconic Nyayo statue and Mau Mau freedom fighters monuments will be maintained.
There will be a botanical space with all species of flowers and plants to capture Kenya’s floral biodiversity, with flowers and plants labelled to enhance learning.
Management offices, event spaces, ablution facilities, physical exercise spaces and touristic features and attractions will be available.
Parks will be fenced and manned, allowing the two parks to operate on a 24-hour basis.
There will be terraced sitting areas with a biosphere look, a dancing fountain put up along Processional Way and several eateries and two high-end restaurants.
Uhuru Park would have been the best venue for the country’s main presidential candidates Deputy President William Ruto and Raila Odinga
Both have decided to hold their last mega rallies in Nairobi before the August 9 polls and Nyayo Stadium was a mutual pick as Uhuru Park is out of use.
However, Ruto’s led Kenya Kwanza coalition has been denied the use of Nyayo Stadium on August 6 for their last rally.
Sports Kenya said Kasarani stadium will be used for peace prayers that will take place between August 5 and August 7.
Ruto’s main rival Raila Odinga is planning to hold his last rally at the Nyayo Stadium.
Azimio la Umoja coalition secretary general Junet Mohammed, in a statement on July 19, said Raila will have his last rally at Nyayo Stadium.
“The Azimio campaign team, led by #babanamartha will hold its last official campaign meeting in Nairobi on August 6 at Nyayo stadium,” reads the letter.
With Nyayo Stadium and Kasarani Sports centre out of bounds, Ruto has limited options left.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris